Samson: Unfulfilled Destiny

KEY VERSE: “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without wails.” —Proverbs 25:28

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Judges 13:2-5, 24-25; 16:15-17, 28-30

AFTER Jephthah’s death, a number of other judges served the nation of Israel, but they are merely mentioned in the record. Samson is the next judge who is given prominence in the Scriptures. He was the son of Manoah, and was raised up to be a judge because “the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord.” As punishment, “The Lord delivered them into the hand of the Philistines forty years.”—Judg. 13:1-5

It is notable that in many instances when the Lord raised up a servant for a special work, that servant came into being as the result of a miraculous birth. This was true of Samson; his mother had been barren and she was informed by an angel that she would have a son. The angel’s announcement was that the child would be the one who would “begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.”—Judg. 13:5

Samson was known for his great strength; and while, according to present day Christian standards, his personal life is not to be commended, at heart he evidently was loyal to the Lord, so much so that in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews he is named as one of the ancient worthies. Because of this, we must conclude that Samson had great faith in God and that, in spite of his failures, in the end he was pleasing to the Lord.

In keeping with the Lord’s instructions, Samson’s head was never shaved, because, according to God’s command, he was to be under the Nazarite oath. The oath required that he was to be separated from the people and devoted exclusively to the service of the Lord. One of the outward evidences that one was under the Nazarite vow was the uncut hair. Samson’s great strength was related to this vow. Apparently, as long as he was faithful to the Lord, he was supplied with supernatural strength which enabled him to accomplish the prodigious feats recorded of him. The uncut hair was a symbol of his faithfulness to his vow, and when he was induced to disclose the secret of his strength and his hair was cut, it illustrated his unfaithfulness to that vow. With his hair gone, God withdrew his support, and the Philistines captured Samson, put out his eyes, and cast him into prison.

Since Samson, with the strength which the Lord supplied, had vexed the Philistines for so long, they gloried over the fact that they now had him under control. They made sure that he would not escape from them by also binding him with fetters of brass. To celebrate this victory over the mighty Samson, the lords of the Philistines gathered together to offer sacrifices to their god, Dagon. This gathering was in their temple, and it was a great assembly. “The house was full of men and women; and all the lords of the Philistines were there; and there were upon the roof about three thousand men and women, that beheld while Samson made sport.” (Judg. 16:27) What a humiliation to the mighty Samson!

The situation soon changed, however, because Samson’s faith came to the rescue. His hair began to grow again, and he asked the Lord to assist him once more, that he might avenge himself against the Philistines. The story of what followed is well known. Bracing himself between two of the pillars which supported the roof of the building, he pushed them apart, “and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.” (Judg. 16:30) This was a glorious moment for Samson, because the restoring of his strength, even for a moment, was proof to him that the Lord had forgiven his transgression, and he must have gone into the sleep of death with peace of mind.

The Lord’s method of delivering the nation of Israel with judges was typical of the much greater deliverance of the world of mankind from the thralldom of sin and death into the kingdom of God. In Isaiah 1:26, the Lord makes a promise concerning the coming time of this deliverance, saying, “I will restore thy judges as at the first.” The judges in the kingdom will be Christ and his footstep followers of this present age who, together with the resurrected ancient worthies, their earthly representatives, such as Samson, will minister to and instruct the people in the ways of righteousness so that they might attain to everlasting life if faithful and obedient.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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